ORLANDO—Triological Society members should seek out ways to keep the society relevant, both today and in the future, said Jesus E. Medina, MD, during his Presidential Address here on April 12 at the Triological Society’s 116th Annual Meeting. The meeting was held as part of the Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meetings. Click here to listen to the entire address, and click here for Dr. Medina’s slide presentation (PDF).
“To determine our relevance as a scientific society, we must determine what is pertinent to our members,” added Dr. Medina. Once this is done, he said, the society will be able to determine what steps to take to maintain the organization’s position as a strong force in the field of otolaryngology.
Identifying Key Elements
To gather this information and to determine the value of membership, the society sent 69 of its newest members a survey asking for their reflections on the reasons why they made the decision to become members. More than half responded.
Through an analysis of the feedback, the society identified seven key reasons why these new members sought to join the organization:
- Membership affords the opportunity to contribute and advance academic and scholarly research within the field;
- Membership is considered prestigious, and those persons respected in the field are members.
- Membership is viewed as necessary for professional development and for attaining professional and personal goals;
- Current members, mentors or influential colleagues encouraged them to seek membership;
- Membership is viewed as a gateway or prerequisite for membership and leadership opportunities in other societies;
- The Triological Society promotes a cross-discipline focus and specialty unity;
- Membership is a way to enhance increased funding opportunities and research grants to expand the field.
“Given that the No. 1 reason listed by the new members is to contribute,” said Dr. Medina, “it behooves us to continue to be creative in finding more opportunities for them to present their work at our meetings.” Another way is for members to contribute to the society’s journal, The Laryngoscope, he added.
As presenting and publishing is the intended outcome of research, another pertinent marker of the society’s relevance is how well it’s doing on funding that research, he said. The amount of money given by the TRIO in the form of grants to support research has increased dramatically over the past decade. Presently, the society gives $440,000 a year in grants to support research, the largest amount of money to support research given by any organization in otolaryngology, said Dr. Medina. “I’m pleased to say this is an area in which we’re doing exceedingly well.”
Dr. Medina stressed that what is working today for the society will not necessarily continue to work in the future, and he urged members to be attuned to changes in the environment, evaluate how to adapt and, importantly, attempt innovative approaches in response.
He identified a few basic tenets to use as guides as the society strives for innovation.
First, he said, members must assume the responsibility to envision and shape the future of the organization, and to not rely on outside consultants to plan its course.
Second, the organization must strive to seek diversity. “In order to better understand and be responsive to the needs of the constituencies we want to attract and retain, I believe that the committee structure and the council of the society should include diversity, not only of race and gender, but … of generation and ideas and skills,” he said. “I believe the committee structure and council of the future should have real representation of residents, fellows and young, new members.” Dr. Medina noted that the TRIO has just approved formation of a social media committee that will help breech this gap. He also urged a stronger alliance with the sub-specialty organizations within otolaryngology, and identified an upcoming partnership with the Society of University Otolaryngologists to sponsor a workshop on training educators as a step in this process.
Third, he stressed the importance of gathering quality information on current trends and implications, noting that “quality information helps to make quality decisions.”
Finally, Dr. Medina said it is important for the TRIO to remain financially strong so that it can continue to support research from new otolaryngologists. He suggested looking at ways small nonprofit organizations are meeting this challenge, and urged members to be open minded about innovative financial models.
“Remaining relevant in the future will undoubtedly be a significant challenge for the Triological Society,” said Dr. Medina. “However, because of my firsthand knowledge of the visionary leadership and the extraordinary commitment of our future leaders … how can we not feel confident that we will meet these challenges head on, and that the Triological Society will not only remain relevant, but will thrive for many years to come.”